Women comprise a surprising proportion of people in youth alcohol and drug treatment services in Australia. In Victoria, for instance, one-third of clients are women.
Women in treatment have higher rates of vulnerability – such as homelessness and family disconnection – and more severe levels of substance use than males.
This disparity can be explained in part by the fact that women in youth alcohol and drug treatment also have higher rates of past sexual abuse, physical abuse, child protection involvement and self-injury.
I interviewed 26 young women in alcohol and drug treatment services in Victoria. More than half of them disclosed a history of sexual abuse and 20 spoke about cutting themselves.